Menstruation: Chinese Medical Approach

The menstrual cycle is a good indicator of a woman's general health. A cycle that is regular with a flow that is adequate and without discomfort indicates that blood production and circulation are healthy.

Poor eating habits, lack of exercise, a stressful lifestyle and emotional upset may encourage blood deficiency and the obstructed circulation of blood and Qi (vital energy), leading to irregularity, pain, mood swings, headaches, or fatigue.

Acupuncture and herbal therapy, as well as changes in lifestyle and diet, can alleviate the underlying deficiencies and obstructions, as well as addressing concerns such as endometriosis, fibroids and cysts.

Traditional Chinese Medicine and Menstrual Irregularities

If your menstrual cycle is associated with feeling cold, depressed, a low libido, and fatigue, especially after your menstrual flow, you might have an internal cold condition and/or deficient Qi and blood. Poor dietary choices, a lack of exercise, and anxiety/depression are often contributing factors. Acupuncture and moxibustion are used to warm and encourage Blood and Qi in the lower abdomen. Tonic herbal formulas are used to build adequate Blood and Qi. Three formulas in my dispensary have proven useful for this presentation: "Tang Kuei and Peony Formula", "Women's Precious", or "Astra Essence".

If your menstrual cycle is associated with irritability, breast tenderness, mild cramps, abdominal bloating, migraines and/or excessive sugar cravings that come a few days before your flow, and are generally relieved with the onset of flow, you probably have PMS. This translates to a condition of stagnant Qi and/or Blood in Chinese medicine, and a disharmony in the Liver and Spleen energetic organ systems. Contributing factors include living with consistent frustration, anger and/or anxiety, and possibly a lack of exercise and poor diet. In Western medical terms, PMS is a hormonal imbalance in the endocrine system. Acupuncture can influence the hormonal imbalance to restore harmony and smooth the flow of Qi and blood. Herbal formulas work at a deeper level to unblock the Qi and Blood, helping to foster a cycle that unfolds gracefully and moves gently. Herbal formulas in my dispensary that have proven useful, include: "Free and Easy Wanderer", "Women's Rhythm", and "Women's Balance".

If your menstrual cycle is associated with painful, difficult periods, with more severe cramping, and you have endometriosis and fibroids, you most likely have a more advanced form of Qi and Blood stagnation in the pelvic region. Again, this is often associated with a very stressful lifestyle and living with consistent frustration, anger and/or anxiety, and may affect the ability to conceive. Acupuncture is excellent therapy to help remove the blockages in the affected meridians. Herbal formulas promote blood flow in the pelvic region to disperse the blood stasis, and can eliminate pelvic masses. A number of formulas in my dispensary are useful for this type of presentation: "Women's Rhythm", "Women's Precious", "Cramp Bark Plus", "Unlocking Formula", "Bupleurum Entangled Qi Formula", "Women's Chamber".

The above are the most common menstrual irregularities. PMS alone is estimated to affect more than 50% of women in North America, with 5% suffering so severely that their lives are seriously affected.

Treatment for menstrual irregularities is generally carried out over three to four menstrual cycles. During this time, acupuncture is suggested 1-4 times per cycle. Herbal formulas are individually selected: you may be asked to use one or two of the above formulas at different times in your cycle: two tablets taken three times a day, seven days of the week, is the usual dosage.

If you do any menstrual irregularities, you might consider acupuncture and herbal therapy as a safe and effective form of treatment.

If you would like to pursue this form of treatment, contact me at the following telephone number or e-mail address. You will be asked to fill out a detailed intake form before your first appointment. You may pick this up at my office, or I can e-mail it to you.

For studies on the effectiveness of Chinese medicine for menstrual irregularities:

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Calvin Dale Smith, BA, MSc, DOM
Doctor of Oriental Medicine (USA)
Riverside Acupuncture and Wellness Centre
2211 Riverside Dr., Suite 106
Ottawa, ON K1H 7X5
613-232-5888
cdalesmith at calvindale.com